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  • Degree

    I know that a Criminal Justice/Criminology or related degree isn't necessary, but is it something that would put other candidates ahead of me?

    If I am just as capable of a candidate with a bachelor's degree in Biology (which would be my backup plan), then I would prefer to get that: CJ would hinder me in Biology, but would Biology hinder me in CJ? I know it isn't a related field, but isn't training peace officers what POST is for?

  • #2
    IMO, A degree is a degree. Your major won't relate unless you're specializing in forensics or something.

    Someone with a CJ degree will not "be ahead" of you just because they have a degree in CJ and you have a degree in Bio. CJ degrees are worthless in my opinion.

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    • #3
      A degree is a degree. If you want to study biology--study biology.

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      • #4
        Criminal Justice Bachelor's degree doesnt make you a good police officer. And the same thing can be said for a Biology degree.

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        • #5
          Look into computer science, business, accounting, something like that. While it won't help you get a job, it may help you down the road if you choose to get into more investigative fields.

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          • #6
            A CJ degree generally tells people you don't like Math.

            M-11
            “All men dream...... But not equally..
            Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it is vanity;
            but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
            for they act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible.....”

            TE Lawrence

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            • #7
              Precisely what job in LE are you aiming for?

              Certain types of LE require a degree, and some do not specify ("at least 60 college credits" and so forth) while others do. We require criminal justice, fire science, or forestry/natural resources, so if you want to be a Forest Ranger, sure, your CJ might be helpful. However, our selection process is geared to finding folks who are well-rounded and have experience in all three disciplines.

              Our most recent hires all had degrees, and while we require an AS they all had a BS or higher. And they all went to the full-time LE academy, which did not teach them what you say as teaching peace officers being what POST is for. There is so much more to the equation here. One was also a licensed forester & former firefighter, another a former MP & CO, another a former small-city LE chief & 10th Mtn Div veteran...the degree is only part of the package.

              Certain federal positions will give you some scale differential for having a degree, too, and it doesn't always matter what the degree is.

              just joe mentioned that "a degree is a degree" and that is true. You must have more to offer than just the degree; if you have your biology degree but can also offer experience (military? seasonal/part-time LEO? prior LE exposure on the good side?) you will be more marketable. Learn what the position you seek requires, pay attention to who your competition is, and plan your goal to be better than the competition.

              For any position in LE - degree or not - today's job market will have you competing with some pretty well-rounded & experienced candidates. If you want to get in to LE, set your sights on a particular position or agency, learn what the particulars are for applying for that specific position or agency, and aim to be & offer something higher than the minimum standards.

              On the other hand, if you are not all geared up for LE and are just exploring options in case biology doesn't pan out, maybe you should look in to something else.
              The opinions expressed here are from the individual only and do not represent the view of any agency that the poster may be affiliated with

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              • #8
                The biology degree would actually make you stand out.

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                • #9
                  Sorry for the delay, I've been moving.

                  My primary goal is to be a sheriff deputy/police officer in a good sized community (100,000+ for me). The Biology degree was so that I would be open to pursue being a forest ranger/fish and game warden/etc.

                  On the other hand, if you are not all geared up for LE and are just exploring options in case biology doesn't pan out, maybe you should look in to something else.

                  Exact opposite, actually: I am totally geared up for LE, but I'm exploring options in case that doesn't pan out. A friend of mine has been a Sacramento County Sheriff Deputy for 8 years, and he is in danger of getting laid off due to budget cuts- that is how far back they are cutting there. Lateral transfers are low, too, so I can only imagine how bad it is for new prospects. It's a competitive field, and I want to be competitive while still leaving other doors open. Law Enforcement isn't the only job market that has been going down, so I'm trying to maximize the amount of places I can go. It sounds like Biology allows me to pursue what I want to do (municipal law enforcement), gives me a heads up in some combined fields (fish and game warden), and gives me some interesting tertiary pursuits if it all doesn't pan out immediately (I do kind of have a thing for the outdoors and wildlife).

                  And I don't intend to have a degree be my defining factor as to whether or not I'm a qualified candidate.

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                  • #10
                    Unless the exam announcement specifically states additional points will be awarded for a degree, possession of one should not put you ahead of other candidates.

                    Most civil service agencies rate candidates based on the number of correct answers they give to written and oral test questions that measure the applicant's ability to actually perform the duties of the job they are seeking. Possession of a degree does not necessarily demonstrate or measure one's ability to do the job. For that matter, I have worked with some real idiots who have held college degrees and some incredibly sharp folks who had nothing more than a high school diploma.

                    Unless a specific degree is required, no one really cares what it is in.
                    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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